What I’ve Learned From Compulsively Reading True Crime for 20 Years

1. If you absolutely have to go to Washington state, do everything in your power to avoid going to Snohomish County. Nothing good happens in Snohomish County, Washington. Just ask Ann Rule – she’s made an entire career out of writing books about horrific crimes that have been committed in this one small region of the country. (Seriously, she’s written like 50 books about terrible, random murders that have all taken place in Snohomish County.) Judging from the Ann Rule canon, which I am deeply familiar with, if you spend enough time in Snohomish County, there’s an extremely good chance that you will be viciously attacked close to your bus stop and battered about the face and head by the light of the Washington moon.

If you’re a sportier type and prone to hiking, you could also get killed on Snoqualmie Pass. Snoqualmie Pass seems to be a mountain that is extremely dangerous not because of its treacherous terrain, but because it attracts psychopaths like moths to a scenic flame. If you absolutely have to go to Washington state and you absolutely have to go hiking, do everything in your power to avoid hiking Snoqualmie Pass – that is, unless you’re in the mood to grapple with a knife-wielding, AWOL soldier who thinks he’s still in Vietnam.

2. If someone seems like a pervert or a killer, he might very well be a pervert or a killer. Humans have a sixth sense for a reason – that little voice in your head is millions of years of evolution telling you that it’s probably a good idea to quicken your pace when passing that gentleman who’s dressed in a soiled trenchcoat and scratched aviators and screaming expletives at no one. Is there a weird dude driving your cab? It’s okay to get out of the cab if you feel like you’re about to get Bone Collectored in it.

3. If you discover that the lock on the window of your ground-floor bedroom is broken and you’re missing a few pairs of underpants and your hairbrush, leave the apartment immediately. There’s clearly a creepy teenager loose in your neighborhood who may very well have masturbated into your sock drawer while wearing one of your hats. Go stay with a friend or a relative until that lock gets fixed and call ADT.

4. Always be extremely punctual when going anywhere and never miss or cancel any plans with anyone. Also, pick up your cell phone every time someone calls you. That way, people will realize pretty quickly if you go missing. They’ll say things like, “Well, I knew that Sarah must have been in the trunk of a sadomasochist’s Kia when she didn’t text me exactly at 11pm like she always does.” What I’m trying to say is, don’t be a fucking flake like me, or else if you do get kidnapped and call someone for help, your lifeline will just be like, “Yeah, sure, Sarah, you’re in the trunk of a sadomasochist’s Kia. It’s always something with you. I’m just going to order without you,” and hang up.

Pop a Xanax – it’s time to talk Halloween Costume Anxiety Again

Me as a "Bridge & Tunnel Girl" on Halloween 2009, a few months before Jersey Shore premiered. #CalledIt

Me as a “Bridge & Tunnel Girl” on Halloween 2009, a few months before Jersey Shore premiered. #CalledIt

It’s early October again, and you know what that means – Halloween is just around the corner, waiting in all of its ghoulish, sparkly and bewitching glory! Halloween can either be the greatest day ever (I mean, come on – a holiday cobbled together out of spookiness, chocolate and drag – how much better could a day get?) OR the biggest let-down you can imagine. There’s nothing quite like the low that accompanies eating a Taco Bell chalupa on 14th Street while dressed as a chubby Sailor in an ill-fitting, jaunty hat.

That’s the thing about Halloween – as an adult, it’s all about two things: having a great party to go to and wearing the most awesome costume at that great party. It’s my personal opinion that costumes come in three kinds: terrible costumes, costumes that are amazing because they are understandable the minute you see them, and costumes you have to explain. The third kind is almost the shittiest; there’s nothing like having your introduction to people all night be something like “I’m the Wicked Witch of the East before she gets hit by the house in the tornado.” That last one is based on personal experience when I had the black witch hat, striped tights and ruby slippers, but no desire or wherewithal to fashion a house out of balsa wood or whatever it is those crafty bitches do on Pinterest. That costume sucked mostly because no one knew who I was supposed to be (in the movie credits, the character would have been ‘Witch 1’), but also because I fell down an entire flight of stairs on my ass at a packed bar while wearing it.

Enough about the past! This year, my dream of going to a huge, all-out Halloween party is coming true  – we’re talking 3,000 people here, and everyone in costume – and yet I still haven’t chosen what I’m going to wear. The fabulous dress code is as follows: “All Outer Space Personalities Welcome.” Truthfully, this theme kind of gives me flashbacks to walking single-file down a flight of warehouse stairs one Halloween in high school. (I was dressed as a Galactic Girl in pointy silver stilettos; the porch we were dancing on wasn’t up to fire code, and the party had been broken up by firemen with hatchets. Not the best Halloween on record, either). Nevertheless, this is my year and I absolutely MUST make sure that the complimentary costume I end up wearing with my hot date, B, is not only hilarious and amazing, but perfectly executed. No pressure, of course – but if you’ll excuse me, I need to look up pricing for balsa wood on the internet now.